20 Jobs for Economics Majors at the Entry Level and Beyond
| Last Updated March 28, 2022
Jobs for economics majors are not just limited to those with "economist" in the title. Economics graduates can cast a much wider net in their job search. After all, those who complete economics programs can find work in a variety of industries, from banking and insurance to real estate and public service—and almost none of those jobs specifically ask for economists.
Some might say the best jobs for economics majors take full advantage of their skill set. Economics majors are known for their analytical and critical-thinking skills. They're adept at manipulating data, recognizing linkages between trends, producers, and consumers, and understanding how daily transactions contribute to overall economic trends. Such skills apply to a wide range of jobs.
The type of job you find will depend somewhat on the kind of degree you get. Most entry-level jobs in economics require at least a bachelor's degree. A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in economics focuses heavily on math and statistics, and it will prepare you for jobs that require advanced data analysis or modeling. A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) also has a math component. However, it looks more at the behavioral aspect of economics. It thus tends to incorporate more psychology or sociology in the mix.
And while a bachelor's degree can open many doors, advancing to more senior positions might require a master's degree or even higher credentials. If you're thinking of going down that road, be sure to read our tips on how to decide if you need a graduate degree.
We've put together a list of entry-level jobs and those requiring something beyond a bachelor's degree, so check those out below. And if you're trying to decide if economics is right for you, you might find it helpful to read our section outlining some of the benefits of an economics education.
- 17 entry-level jobs for economics majors with a bachelor's degree
- 3 jobs that require additional training or significant experience
- 5 benefits of studying economics
- How to decide if you need a graduate degree
Wage information is current as of March 23, 2022. It is based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
17 Entry-Level Jobs for Economics Majors With a Bachelor's Degree
Jobs for economics majors right out of college run the gamut from banking and finance to research and sales. Some of the best entry-level jobs for economics majors in this section come with high salaries and solid employment outlooks. Keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, the salaries listed here are median numbers across the entire occupation and do not necessarily reflect what you would earn as a starting wage.
An actuary uses numerical analysis to calculate and manage risk. An actuary's job is to analyze the likelihood of future events and identify ways to minimize the risk of adverse outcomes. A bachelor's degree will get you in the door. You will likely be partnered with more experienced actuaries who can guide your development. You will need to apply for membership in a professional actuarial society and pass a series of exams to be certified. You can start that process in your senior year of college. Many employers expect students to have passed at least one of the qualifying exams before they graduate.
- Median salary: $111,030 per year
2. Personal financial advisor
Providing advice about investments, insurance, mortgages, taxes, and more can be a rewarding way to put your economics education to work. With training in financial planning, financial advisors work with clients to set financial goals and figure out how to achieve them. They educate clients about anything from budgets and savings plans to investment and tax issues. New hires typically undergo on-the-job training under the direction of senior advisors. Moving up in this field usually requires becoming a Certified Financial Planner.
- Median salary: $89,330 per year
3. Healthcare analytics specialist
Many informatics companies need healthcare analytics specialists to study the performance patterns of different hospital departments and recommend ways to streamline and improve processes. These professionals analyze data from patient files, billing records, and hospital inventories to make projections and find inefficiencies. A bachelor's degree can get you an entry-level position, but a master's degree will help you advance. Once you have at least three years of experience, you can apply for certification through the American Health Information Management Association.
- Median salary: $104,280 per year (among all medical and health services managers)
Do you love number crunching? Statisticians gather and analyze data to detect trends and relationships. They design surveys, collect data, and communicate the results to policymakers and others. You need to be well versed in calculus, probability, survey methodology, and statistical theory to make it in this job. Most positions require a master's degree, but some entry-level jobs are available to those with an undergraduate degree in economics.
- Median salary: $92,270 per year
5. Financial analyst
Guiding companies' investment decisions is the job of financial analysts. They use their skills in quantitative analysis to assess financial projections and evaluate investment proposals. You have to be skilled at deriving meaning from economic and business trends to succeed in this field. Some positions require that you get a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), but employers don't generally expect you to have that before you start.
- Median salary: $83,660 per year
6. Financial examiner
As a financial examiner, you can help keep the world's financial systems on track by ensuring banks, credit unions, and brokerage firms comply with applicable laws and regulations. Part of the role involves ensuring that borrowers are treated fairly and that the financial institutions are prepared to handle any unexpected losses. A bachelor's degree in economics (including some accounting courses) is a good foundation for this career.
- Median salary: $81,430 per year
7. Operations research analyst
Operations research analysts examine data to help organizations solve problems like how to use resources, manage the supply chain, and set prices. They use sophisticated statistical modeling software to assess the likely consequences of process or organizational changes. Their work influences a company's policy decisions. A bachelor's degree is enough for entry-level positions, but you will need an advanced degree to move up in this field.
- Median salary: $86,200 per year
8. Budget analyst
A common fixture in government departments, research firms, and higher education institutions, budget analysts help large organizations keep their financial house in order. They study the costs of policy or program decisions and recommend funding levels. They also analyze revenue and expenses to project future financial needs. You need solid communication skills to explain and defend your recommendations.
- Median salary: $78,970 per year
Handling the day-to-day financial transactions of companies is the job of accountants. They calculate payroll, file tax returns, and prepare year-end financial statements. Some companies prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in accounting. However, many entry-level positions are open to those with a bachelor's degree in economics. You might need to start the process of becoming a certified public accountant (CPA), which requires passing an exam. An internship experience is a big plus in this field.
- Median salary: $73,560 per year
The main role of an auditor is to review and verify the accuracy of an accountant's work. Auditors perform quarterly or annual reviews. They look for financial mismanagement or inaccurate reporting, and identify ways to eliminate fraud. Professional certification can lead to better opportunities and is available to those with a few years of experience in this field.
- Median salary: $73,560 per year
11. Supply chain analyst
Manufacturing firms, retail businesses, and transportation service providers rely on supply chain analysts (also known as logisticians) to ensure that getting products from warehouses to end-users operates as efficiently as possible. These professionals collect data on costs and productivity to evaluate shipping processes and identify problems. You need to be good at strategic planning and resource allocation to succeed in this field.
- Median salary: $76,270 per year
12. Insurance underwriter
Insurance underwriters evaluate the risks involved in insuring a person or company. They analyze financial statements to understand a client's economic background, and determine appropriate insurance coverage amounts and premiums.
- Median salary: $71,790 per year
13. Mortgage loan associate
Some companies hire economics grads with bachelor's degrees to assist senior staff in managing mortgage loans. Typical tasks in this job include setting up new loans, reviewing rent income, and analyzing financial statements. Your job is to make sure clients comply with the terms of their loan agreement.
- Median salary: $63,960 per year (among all loan officers)
14. Market research analyst
As a market research analyst, your job is to survey a business segment to determine what products will sell well, who will buy them, and how much companies can charge for them. You are responsible for conducting surveys and keeping abreast of industry trends. You also have to present your findings in a way that people can easily understand. In addition to having a firm understanding of marketing, you need to be detail-oriented and have good quantitative abilities for this work.
- Median salary: $65,810 per year
15. Compensation and benefits analysis specialist
These human resources professionals research compensation statistics and perform market analysis to determine appropriate salary and benefits packages for different jobs. Part of the job involves assessing the financial impact of compensation plans and ensuring that those plans comply with regulations and labor laws. In larger companies, the positions might be split in two. Taking courses in business, finance, and accounting during your degree can be helpful.
- Median salary: $67,190 per year
16. Securities trader
You need to keep up-to-date with happenings in the financial markets to make it as a securities trader. These workers buy and sell stocks, derivatives, and commodities to make money for their companies' clients. Securities trading is a fast-paced, high-pressure career. Entry-level jobs can be had with a bachelor's degree, though an MBA could help you advance. Traders must have a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which requires passing some exams. Most firms will make qualifying for the license a condition for hiring you.
- Median salary: $64,770 per year (among all securities, commodities, and financial service sales agents)
17. Business journalist
You may succeed as a business journalist if you have solid verbal and written communication skills and enjoy explaining complex concepts in plain language. Your job is to make the worlds of economics and commerce understandable to the average person. Having an economics degree means you can position yourself as a subject matter expert as long as you can demonstrate your writing ability.
- Median salary: $49,300 per year (among all news analysts, reporters, and journalists)
3 Jobs for Economics Majors That Require Additional Training or Significant Experience
An undergraduate degree in economics can be a good starting point for law, consulting, and government service careers. However, the reality is that, in many cases, you will need to go beyond a bachelor's. Many of the highest-paying jobs for economics majors go to candidates who have advanced degrees in law, business, or finance, and several years of experience.
18. Financial manager
Financial management is considered a classic job for business economics majors. It involves analyzing market trends to find ways to reduce a business's costs and increase its profits. Financial managers also devise strategies to help companies expand. An undergraduate degree is a minimum requirement, but most employers look for candidates with a master's degree and five-plus years of experience in the financial field.
- Median salary: $134,180 per year
Economists monitor economic trends and develop forecasts on interest rates to energy costs. They typically work for private corporations, think tanks, or government agencies. Becoming an actual economist normally requires at least a master's degree or a Ph.D. You might choose to specialize in areas like international economics or labor economics.
- Median salary: $108,530 per year
20. Management analyst
Management analysts help companies find new and better ways of doing business. They recommend organizational changes and develop new policies and procedures to improve efficiency and increase profits. A graduate degree is not required, but most analysts come to the job with several years of business-related work experience under their belt.
- Median salary: $87,660 per year
5 Benefits of Studying Economics
Economics occupies a unique position at the intersection of arts, science, and math. At its heart, it's the study of behavior: how people choose to use limited resources to satisfy unlimited needs. It's equal parts creative and analytical, and it can be a very rewarding field. Here are five benefits that come from studying economics:
1. You learn how to become a more responsible consumer.
Economics students learn to think analytically about issues of economic efficiency, globalism, wealth and poverty, and social justice. You can become a critical consumer of statistically based arguments about public policy by studying economics. Your training will help you sift through the rhetoric and understand the basis for different viewpoints.
The skills you pick up in an economics program make it easier for you to solve problems and make data-driven decisions. You can assess the risks of an investment opportunity, the benefits and costs of different career choices, and the potential impacts of public policies like health care and taxation. All of these things will help you become a more responsible consumer.
2. You develop unique skills.
The analytical problem-solving skills that come from studying economics will help you stand out as a candidate in many fields. Knowing how to analyze data to predict future economically oriented events differentiates you from many other liberal arts graduates. It makes you more appealing to potential employers. The ability to use mathematical and statistical techniques to derive meaning from data is a highly valued skill in today's workplace.
3. Your skills will position you for many in-demand jobs.
Economics programs equip you with the skills that many companies need. Employers value workers with well-developed research, analysis, and data modeling abilities. Here are just a few examples of economics-related occupations that are expected to see faster-than-average employment growth between 2020 and 2030:
- Operations research analyst
- Market research analyst
4. You can work in a huge range of industries.
Examples of possible employers include investment banks, brokerage houses, insurance companies, manufacturing firms, real estate agencies, consulting firms, government departments, and non-profit organizations. And an education in economics can lead to some pretty powerful positions: Several high-ranking judges, business executives, and world leaders started out with economics degrees.
5. You qualify to make some seriously good money.
An economics degree can be an extremely sound investment. One study in the U.K. found that 10 years after graduation, the average salaries of economics graduates were higher than those of every other major except medicine. Economics grads made more than those with engineering, law, and computer science degrees. And a separate study in the U.S. found that economics majors topped the list of the highest-earning graduates in all fields.
How to Decide If You Need a Graduate Degree
It's no surprise that many of the top jobs for economics majors are reserved for those with advanced degrees. But investing more time and money in higher education may not necessarily get you where you want to go. Before you dash off your grad school applications, take some time to consider your options carefully.
1. Think about your career goals.
Grad school might be a good option if you're reasonably certain of the career you want, and your odds of succeeding in that career will be better with an advanced degree. For instance, if research is your passion and you dream of finding a position in government agencies or think tanks, you will need to pursue graduate studies.
But if you're unsure exactly what you want to do, it might be better to hold off. The worst reason to go to grad school is that you don't know what else to do. There are plenty of good jobs available to those with a bachelor's degree. Spending time and money on more schooling might not make sense if you don't have an end goal.
2. Decide what salary level is high enough.
Typically, those with master's degrees or higher make more than those with bachelor's degrees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for economists was $108,530. The top 10 percent earned over $198,000, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than 59,220.
But most economics grads don't end up as economists. They find jobs like the ones listed in this article, and they enjoy median salaries that are generally higher than the ones listed for economists. Economics majors consistently rank among the top earners in many fields.
3. Consider the total cost of more schooling.
A master's degree in economics typically takes two additional years after earning your bachelor's degree, and a Ph.D. takes even longer. Do you have the resources to finance more time in school? Will you have to take on additional student loan debt?
And don't forget about the opportunity cost. Spending two years in a master's program means having two fewer years to earn an income and build your career. Economics majors are experts at calculating such costs. Make sure you focus your analytical eyes on your own situation.